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Historic Milestone for ISRO as Unmanned Probe Enter Lunar Orbit

Unmanned Indian Probe Enters Lunar Orbit

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Although India was a relative latecomer to the space race, it has developed a reputation for conducting its space explorations. Pixabay

An unmanned Indian space probe successfully entered lunar orbit Tuesday, passing a crucial step towards a historic milestone for the country’s fledgling space program.

The arrival of the $141 million Chandrayaan-2 probe comes nearly a month after it was launched into space aboard India’s powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark Three rocket.  The probe will orbit the moon for two weeks before its Vikram lander — named after Vikram Sarabhai, the scientist regarded as the “father” of India’s space program — will undock from the mothership and land on the moon’s South Pole.

It will then release a small rover dubbed Pragyan that will roam for 14 days, mapping the moon’s surface, conducting experiments to search for signs of water and assessing its topography and geology.

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A small rover dubbed Pragyan that will roam for 14 days, mapping the moon’s surface. Pixabay

If the planned September 7 landing is successful, India will join the United States, Russia and China as the only nations to achieve a soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon.  It will also become the first nation to attempt a controlled landing on the moon’s South Pole.

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Although India was a relative latecomer to the space race, it has developed a reputation for conducting its space explorations at a fraction of the cost spent by countries like the United States.  It first placed an unmanned spacecraft in lunar orbit in 2008, which helped confirm the presence of water on the lunar surface.

Among other goalposts India has set in the coming years is to put a space station in orbit, an astronaut in space by 2022, a robotic mission to Mars and a mission to explore the sun. (VOA)

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ISRO Sets up Regional Academic Centre for Space in Karnataka

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka’s southwest Dakshina Kannada district, an official said on Saturday.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” space agency’s director for capacity building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement here.

The state-run ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

The space agency and the engineering institute signed an agreement on the industry-academic collaboration on Friday at Surathkal, about 380km from Bengaluru.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D), said Venkitakrishnan on the occasion.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” said the director.

ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects.

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Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes,” said NIT K. Umamashewara Rao.

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK.

The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

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“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion. (IANS)